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The Long Walk and the Escape to Utah

Time Frame

1 class periods of 90 minutes each


Utah LessonPlans


The student will be able to examine United States Indian policy by understanding the events surrounding the Long Walk. They also will be able to understand how the Long Walk and the escape to Utah serve as examples of Navajo determination and persistence.


Teacher Materials

Student Materials

Background for Teachers

In the winter of 1863/1864, after their crops, livestock, and homes had been destroyed by the United States Army under Christopher "Kit" Carson, over 8,000 Navajos were forced to walk twelve-to-fifteen miles a day-- with little food and little or no protection from the winter weather--from their ancestral homelands to the remote and desolate Bosque Redondo Reservation. The memory of the Long Walk has haunted generations of Navajos, and the story of the Long Walk is important to the history of Utah's Navajos. Some Navajos were able to escape the army and moved into what is now southeastern Utah. Their continued presence in this area eventually led the government to add additional lands in Utah to the Navajo Reservation.

Instructional Procedures

Using the Navajo Interactive Map, the information from At a Glance, and/or a clip from We Shall Remain: The Navajo, introduce students to the story of the Long Walk. Ask the students to think about what it would have taken to survive such an experience, whether they had been among those who were forced to Bosque Redondo or whether they were part of the group that escaped north. Ask the students to consider how these experiences might have affected the future of the Navajo. Give the students the Federal Indian Policy Vocabulary worksheet and tell them to study the vocabulary.

The next day (or following a study period), review the Federal Indian Policy Vocabulary and then distribute copies of the newspaper articles and the Navajo oral histories. Have the students read the newspaper stories and the oral histories. The students should review the materials and write a description of what the newspaper stories and oral histories suggest about federal Indian policy. Following this activity, the class may discuss how primary historical documents can reflect a historical event in different ways.


  • Continue the story of the Navajo to include the restoration of the Navajo to their ancestral homelands with the Treaty of 1868.
  • Have the students view We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears (available to Utah Educators in eMedia) and compare/contrast the Navajo Long Walk to the Cherokee removal experience.
  • Have the students do additional research/writing assignments on a particular aspect of federal Indian policy or a specific element of Navajo government or culture.

Assessment Plan

  • Discussion contributions
  • Writing assignment

End of Unit Assessment


Bailey, L. R. The Long Walk: A History of the Navajo Wars, 1846--1848. Los Angeles: Westernlore Press, 1964.

Benally, Clyde, with Andrew O. Wiget, John R. Alley, and Garry Blake. Dinejí Nákéé' Nááhane': A Utah Navajo History. Monticello, Utah: San Juan School District, 1982.

Denetdale, Jennifer. The Long Walk: The Forced Navajo Exile. New York: Chelsea House, 2008.

Iverson, Peter. Diné: A History of the Navajo. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.

Maryboy, Nancy C., and David Begay. "The Navajos of Utah." In A History of Utah's American Indians. Ed. Forrest S. Cuch. Salt Lake City: Utah Division of Indian Affairs and the Utah Division of State History, 2000.

McPherson, Robert S. The Northern Navajo Frontier 1860--1900: Expansion through Adversity. Logan:Utah State University Press, 2001.


The University of Utah's American West Center (AWC) produced the curriculum materials in consultation with the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, Utah State Office of Education, KUED 7, and the Goshute, Northwestern Band of the Shoshone, Southern Paiute, and Ute nations.

Created: 01/17/2011
Updated: 02/04/2018